Tuesday, July 1, 2014 • Mother criticizes investigation into daughter’s death

Angel Siler.

Publisher’s note: This story originally appeared in the Tuesday, July 1, 2014, edition of the Lassen County Times.

A local mother recently asked the Lassen County Board of Supervisors and the Susanville City Council for their help in bringing the men she alleges drugged, raped and murdered her daughter to justice.

Michelle Siler alleged the Susanville Police Department did not investigate the events that led to the hospitalization and death of her daughter, Angel Siler, 23, in September 2011. Following a 911 call on Sept. 4, the young woman was taken to Banner Lassen Medical Center and then airlifted to Renown Medical Center in a deep coma. She died there Sept. 10.

After the city council meeting, Downing responded to the newspaper’s questions regarding Siler’s allegations.

“I want to review the file to get specifics,” Downing said. “I’m aware of the case, and we’re continuing to work on it. It is an active investigation, and it’s been an active investigation for quite a while.”

“Why has no one been held accountable for her death?” Siler asked. “I go about daily chores, buying groceries, going to school, shopping, and I see the men who hurt her just walking the streets as if nothing important has happened … How can someone be responsible for another person’s death and go on being happy, acting as if nothing happened — going to college, becoming engaged and moving from place to place? The men who were with her at the time of the incident need to be held accountable.”

After about three years Siler still wonders why the Susanville Police Department allegedly did not notice the signs a crime possibly had been committed and instead treated a scene as a medical aid situation.

“When Angel was admitted to the hospital she had bruising all over her,” Siler said at the city council meeting. “I questioned the staff about this and pictures were taken of the bruising. What happened to the pictures?  I requested a rape kit be done and was told that it would be. What happened to that test? The care flight nurse came to me and asked about the bruising around Angel’s neck. She said she would file a report on what she observed. What happened to her report? My daughter, Angel, passed away on Sept. 10, 2011, (and) almost three years later I am still fighting to have her case investigated and her reputation restored.”

Siler also was disturbed by drawings she saw on her daughter when she arrived at the hospital.

“I was overwhelmed by fear and horrified to see my daughter in the emergency room,” Siler said. “The nurse was icing her hand trying desperately to get a vein for the I.V.  I saw numerous bruises on her lifeless body, as well as drawings and words in ink that I know Angel would not willingly have allowed to be put on her skin if she had had a choice in the matter. I could only imagine the horror she went through before getting medical attention.”

Siler said someone wrote the word “gunz” repeatedly on her daughter’s skin.

Siler also alleged medical records reveal her daughter had several drugs in her system, including two date rape drugs.

“When I received a copy of her medical records from Banner Lassen Hospital, I discovered there were multiple drugs in her system,” Siler said. “There were two date rape drugs, high doses of benzodiazepine, marijuana, methadone and ketamine. I know she would not take these drugs on her own.”

According to a copy of a toxicology report prepared by Banner Lassen Medical Center, Angel’s urine contained opiates, phencyclidine, trycylic antidepressant and methadone.

A more detailed listing noted a positive benzodiazepine screen, a positive cannabinoid screen, a positive methadone screen and a positive opiate screen.

The toxicology report reveals the presence of drugs in Angel’s system, but it does not report the levels of the substances.

Siler acknowledged her daughter smoked marijuana, but she believes Angel would not have taken the other drugs on her own. She said Angel previously had been hospitalized for a drug overdose and had changed her behavior and no longer took those drugs.

Siler also alleges the investigating officer, Michael Milito, refused to investigate her daughter’s death.

“After Angel passed away, I went to the Susanville Police Department and spoke to officer Milito on three separate occasions,” Siler said. “He informed me he had closed my daughter’s case because he didn’t feel there was anything to investigate. He also informed me he was still investigating a case that was several years old, and he didn’t have time to investigate her case. Officer Milito told me to give up, that the investigation was not going to happen.”

Downing said he couldn’t comment on any statements allegedly made by Milito.

When asked about the date rape drugs allegedly found in Siler’s body, Downing said, “There’s not a lot I can share about that. Initially it was a medical aid call. The individual was then transferred to Nevada, and we handled it as a medical aid. Later we became aware that it was a potential crime, so then we were backtracking and trying to obtain some of that stuff we wouldn’t normally do. On every medical aid that is an overdose or something of that nature, we don’t seize the crime scene, keep it (or) collect evidence, that type of thing.”

Siler said when Milito arrived at the scene following the 911 call, Angel and the paramedics where the only people present, but she alleges the events could not have happened the way the officer said they did.

“Officer Milito claimed when he arrived at the apartment after receiving the 911 call that Angel was found on the bed unresponsive and the paramedics were working on her to get her moved to the hospital,” Siler said. “There was no one in the apartment but Angel — even the person who called 911 had run from the apartment. At no time was it even considered to stage the apartment for an investigation. He didn’t even care enough to see why she had been left alone. He claimed she was talking and laughing with him, so it wasn’t a police matter. When we got to the hospital, the doctor said she was in hour 16 of a drug overdose, and that there was no way she could have been talking or laughing with officer Milito.

“Through her medical records, and comments from different people the men (the alleged perpetrators) had talked to, I believe my daughter was held against her will, given drugs to subdue her, raped, beaten and left to die on the bathroom floor.  The medical records show that there was water in her lungs.  When I asked how that happened one of the men claimed she was put in the shower when she wouldn’t wake up. To have that much water in her lungs she would have had to be held underwater. When I asked why they didn’t call 911 sooner to get her help, one of the men claimed he knew more than the paramedics, and she was going to die anyway, so there was no reason to call. Why did the police officer never look into this?”

Siler said even when she provided Milito information regarding the alleged perpetrators, he dismissed her.

“When we told officer Milito of a conversation we had with one of the men who had been there, his comment back to me was that he personally knew this man, and he (Milito) didn’t believe this man would do anything to hurt Angel,” Siler said.

Siler said she’s only looking for justice for her daughter.

“I’m sure after hearing my story you are thinking I’m out to get something,” Siler said. “The only thing I have ever asked for is justice for Angel. I don’t ever want to pick up the paper or read on the Internet that someone else’s child has been victimized not only from the attacker but also (by) law enforcement. If nothing else, maybe we need to look at the way the first responders handle a crime scene. Should just one person be allowed to make all the decisions as to whether a possible murder had taken place? Because of officer Milito not staging the scene and no investigation done, the men (perpetrators) were able to go in and clean and throw away all the evidence in this case.”

“I understand and appreciate the mom’s concern, and I’ve communicated with her,” Downing said. “So have my detectives, (they’ve) communicated with her as to the progress of the investigation. It is a complicated investigation because the majority of the investigation is based on circumstantial evidence. The people who know what occurred either aren’t talking or are avoiding us, but we’re moving forward with the investigation. It’s still active, it’s not closed, and hopefully it comes to a resolution.”

“Would the city of Susanville Police Department like to conceal the truth behind my daughter’s death?” Siler asked. “I have asked myself that question so many times. How can there be so many mistakes, accidents or just plain stupidity in this case not to have it revealed? Is the problem that we need more detectives on the Susanville police force? Is the problem that we need to have our new officers better trained for the job? Is the problem that we hire young men who have no business wearing a uniform? Is the problem that people don’t care enough for one another? Is the problem that the city police and the sheriff’s department don’t work together enough? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, but I hope if nothing else comes from this meeting, it’s that each and every one of you stop for a few minutes and think about the next young person who is going to be killed and pray it isn’t someone close to you.”